Sun, Nov 07, 2004 - Page 22 News List

Tiger hunts leader Haas

PRO GOLF TOUR Woods had an 8-under 64 to put him right on the heals of Jay Haas, after a 66 gave the oldest player to qualify, a two-stroke lead over Stephen Ames

AP , ATLANTA, GEORGIAAP, OTSU, JAPAN

Tiger Woods watches his shot from a bunker on the fourth hole during the second round of PGA Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday. Woods is three shots behind tournament leader Jay Haas.

PHOTO: AFP

Maybe Tiger Woods knew what he was doing after all.

On the verge of becoming just another millionaire golfer, Woods finally put his new swing to good use. He sure resembled the Tiger of old in the second round of the Tour Championship, shooting an 8-under 64 that catapulted him into contention Friday.

He was chasing Jay Haas, who turns 51 next month and hasn't won in 11 years.

Already the oldest player to qualify for the season-ending event, Haas was playing good enough to end his winless streak after a 66 gave him a two-stroke lead over Stephen Ames.

"Obviously, I have not won. I would sure love to do it," Haas said. "I dream about it."

But Woods was lurking just three shots behind.

"You have to understand there are risks to getting better," he said. "I've always taken risks to try and become a better golfer, and that's one of the things that's got me as far as I have."

Still, Woods raised plenty of eyebrows when he decided to tweak the swing that made him the first professional to win four straight majors. So far, his only victory this year came way back in February at the Match Play Championship.

With Vijay Singh dominating golf, Woods has become a forgotten man.

That changed Friday when he made two birdies with stunning recovery shots, never came seriously close to a bogey and matched his best score of the year.

When it was done, Woods again recounted the rationale for altering his swing, reminding everyone that he's done it all before.

After winning the 1997 Masters by a record 12 strokes, he deemed it necessary to make some changes that would give him better control and more versatility with his shots. Woods went more than two years before winning his second major.

"Sometimes it's not pretty in the beginning," he said, "but I've come out a better player at the end. Trust me, I've been down this road before, so it's nothing new. I'm starting to see some of the fruits now."

Of course, one round didn't mean Woods was all the way back. He'd been in this position before, but wasn't able to hold onto a 36-hole lead or make up ground.

This time, he had to catch a guy whose career renaissance comes with constant references to his age.

"If I was 50 and sitting at home, nobody would be talking about me," Haas said. "I'm just glad I've got a parking spot out there and they let me tee off this week."

Mizuno Classic

Annika Sorenstam moved into position for her record-tying fourth consecutive Mizuno Classic title Saturday, shooting a 6-under 66 to take a four-stroke lead into the final round.

The Swedish star, trying to match the LPGA Tour record of four straight victories in a tournament set by England's Laura Davies in the 1994-1997 Standard Register Ping, birdied the two par-5 closing holes for the second straight day to finish at 15-under 129.

Japan's Chihiro Nakajima, tied for the first-round lead with Sorenstam after a 63, had a 70 to drop into second place on the Seta Golf Course.

Grace Park, coming off a five-stroke victory over Sorenstam and Sweden's Carin Koch last week in the CJ Nine Bridges Classic in South Korea, shot a 69 to top a group at 8 under. Davies (69) also was 8 under along with Thailand's Aree Song (70), America's Jamie Hullett (67), Candie Kung of Taiwan (67), and Chieko Amanuma (67) and Junko Omote (67) of Japan.

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